At Tuesday night's Woodstock City Council a Mass Notification System (MNS) was discussed and approved. There were considerable discussion about whether a recession is the right time to spend $22,000 for an electronic system of notifying residents of emergencies, and Councilman Ralph Webster said there was already a system in place. I don't recall his exact words about the state of operation of that existing system, but I got the idea that it's not functioning at this time (or not functioning properly).
I expressed my opinion to the City Council that spending so much time on a $22,000 decision didn't make sense to me. I suspect my disgust showed quite plainly.
And I neglected to ask what had seemed the most important question to me: "Was the $22,000 just the cost of negotiating a contract with Blackboard Connect or was it the total cost of the system?"
I walked away from the meeting believing that $22,000 was the one-time cost for a system to be purchased by the City of Woodstock to inform residents of true emergencies. Has there ever been one here?
On Wednesday morning I called City Hall and learned that the $22,000 is the estimated annual "not-to-exceed" cost. What the Council approved was the MNS that will cost 22 grand every year!
Perhaps I was thinking about what I was going to say, when I should have been listening, but I did not hear one person at the front of the room say this was an annual cost. Over the next 20 years that's almost half a million dollars. And it will be, with system upgrades, maintenance, inflation and population growth.
The City Council was less than transparent with its public consideration of this project!